Keith Curle ahead of the visit of Oxford United
Manager Keith Curle spoke to us about the last home game of the season at his Friday afternoon press conference.
“I think it's massively important for us to sign-off well in front of our home fans,” he said. “We're playing Oxford who are where we want to be in the division. Whatever happens tomorrow, we can use the game as a barometer for us.
“If we get a negative result it will highlight the areas we need to improve. If we get a favourable result we'll be able to look back on the areas that have cost us across the season. We’re a work in progress and we know we need to be improving. Everything is geared towards that.
“We’ll take tomorrow's game exactly the same as we would if it was the start of the season. It’s an opportunity to go out and get three points against a team who have done very well on a consistent basis this season.
“You could probably look at their cup runs and think they've been a slight distraction for them, but they've still done exceptionally well and they've got a very good manager. There's a good infrastructure at the football club with a healthy working budget that has enabled them to be very competitive in this division.”
“The plan for us is to be in their position next year,” he commented. “Year on year, we want to improve. Once I'd spent six weeks at the football club I knew there were things I could improve and do slightly differently to get better results. We’ve done that but it has to carry on.”
“Michael Raynes is back in training,” he added. “He’s been given the all-clear to come back in and train with us again, which is pleasing. Nobody is ever going to go against the experts and you have to listen to and take the advice. There’s a mandatory period of time with a head injury where players aren’t allowed to be involved and we’re through that now.
“My team is picked and sorted and I have an availability I’m happy with. I know other people will have other ideas about who should play but I’m also happy with that. I respect everyone’s opinion and I hope they do carry on shouting at me and telling me I’m doing it wrong, because their opinions are valued. What they say is heartfelt and that’s exactly the same for me.
“What we have to make sure we do is perform. We’ll put our strategies in place because we know we can cause them problems. They’ve got a decent squad and a manager who is at a football club which suits him. As I say, we have aspirations to be where they are next season.
“Ultimately you get a feel-good factor when results are going your way and that’s what we are trying to bring to this football club. We’ve taken strides to improve on and off the pitch and that will stand us in good stead as we look to carry that on. If we start to think that we are happy in mid-table in League Two then that’s when the rot will set in. We can’t afford to let that happen. A successful squad is a very welcoming squad and that’s what we want to create.
“We’re looking forward to seeing a large travelling contingent of fans. I’ve read the press release which says their chairman is buying hot dogs for everybody, and that’s excellent. They have some very good players who pose threats. Kemar Roofe is an example of that. He could easily play in a higher division. We have to deal with that and impose ourselves so that we can play the game the way we want to play it.”
“The players know I want to beat Oxford so that we can show how far we’ve come and where we are in this division,” he concluded. “There’s pride, passion and commitment to play for and I expect to see that in every game we play.
“That’s why we won’t see wholesale changes. There might be one or two players who change but it will all be done to beat Oxford.”
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